SF State News {University Communications}

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A Closer Listen -- Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble

May 1, 2008 -- Music Lecturer John Calloway first heard the infectious rhythm of Afro-Cuban jazz as a child growing up in San Francisco's Mission District. He was taken by the ways the music and culture intertwined. It's that message that he hopes to impart to the SF State Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble, the student group he leads. "It's been a big part of my life and I want to share that with my students," Calloway said. "It's more than the music itself. It's the culture and the social aspects to this music that you might not find in other places."

Photo of Music Lecturer John Calloway playing the flute

Music Lecturer John Calloway


Calloway, a renowned flutist, has performed across the country and played alongside legendary musicians like Cuban bassist Israel Cachao López. Under his leadership, the SF State Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble has played at Carnival and other local jazz haunts since starting in 1999. The student musicians represent a wide sampling of disciplines and majors in the University and often stay in the group for several years. Some go on to play Afro-Cuban music professionally or study music in graduate school.

"I feel like I've accomplished what I wanted to because the music is being preserved and continued," Calloway said. "People are living the class and saying this is an important music that needs to be preserved."

Listen to a recording of "Saragode" by the SF State Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble (MP3 format requires Quicktime or Real Player).

-- Michael Bruntz


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